Roof Inspection Checklist for Hailstorms and Insurance Coverage

By fiderioandsons Dec 20, 2013

How to identify hail damage and when to sumbit a claim to your insurer

The National Roofing Contractors Association recommends inspecting your roof twice per year (once in the summer, once in the winter) and after all major weather events. Snow, hail, and fierce winter wind can cause serious damage to your roof. However, unlike hurricane or tornado damage,  winter storm damage may not be obvious. After a hailstorm it is important to go through the following roof inspection checklist to improve your change of recovering costs from your insurance provider for any necessary repairs. Most insurance companies give you between six months and one year to place a claim caused by storm damage, but waiting that long can lead to more expensive repairs. If you fail to place a claim with your insurer, they will have the right to refuse future claims for damage that results from not completing necessary repairs.

The following roof inspection checklist is for hailstorms, but remember to give your roof a full inspection sometime this winter.  See our roof inspection checklist for regular maintenance checks. If you find that your roof needs repair, read below for more information on insurance claims and roofing warranties.

First Check the Sides of your Home or any other outdoor structures: Your roof is the most difficult part of your house to inspect, so you want to know what you are looking for before you get up there or get your binoculars out. Dents, punctures and spatter marks can give you information about the size, density, and direction of the hail that will help you understand any damage you see on the roof.

  • Spatter marks are caused by low-density hailstones that only remove some surface material, like dust, but hailstorms can include both higher and low density hailstones:
    • Measure the spatter to determine what kind of damage you are looking at
    • Look at the shape of the spatter to determine the direction of the hailstorm. This will tell you which roof slopes to inspect for damage.

Check your Gutters and Downspouts for Dents and Scratches:

Aluminum gutters are easily dented by hail, copper gutters are a bit sturdier, and steel gutters are even tougher. Hail does not scratch metal, though. If your steel gutters have been damaged, you can expect to find more trouble elsewhere. Check vinyl gutters or gutter guards for punctures and cracks.

  • How do you know if the damage was cause by hail? If the direction of the indentations is consistent with the direction of the storm, you probably do have hail damage. However, scratches accompanying dents indicate a different cause.
  • The size of dents on gutters and downspouts caused by hail should be smaller than the radius of splatter marks.

Get your gutters repaired! Dents can lead to clogs and leaks, and can weaken the gutter system

Look for Dents and Puncture Marks on your Roof: Study the distribution, location, size and color

  • Location: You should compare the storm-facing sides of your roof to the leeward sides.   Hail damage should be randomly dispersed along all storm-facing roof slopes
    • If you are inspecting your roof for the first time and you notice clusters of dents, you might have discovered intentional damage. The previous owners of your home could have attempted to defraud their insurance company to get a new roof. This should have been uncovered during your pre-purchase home inspection, but it is sometimes overlooked and creates a more complicated situation. Call us for assistance.
  • Are the damaged areas a different color than the rest of the roof? If yes, then the damage is probably new and your insurer will cover necessary repairs.
    • Over time discolorations will blend in. If the damage you notice is not discolored but appears to be caused by hail, it could be from a previous storm. Your insurer may or may not cover repair costs depending on how long ago the damage occurred. In the event that the damage to your roof is not covered, you should still take steps to repair.
    • Size: Understanding the damage associated with different sizes of hail will help you determine what to look for. In most cases, the area of damage will be smaller than the hailstone that caused it. Recognizing damage from small hailstones is more difficult. Remember that even during a ‘small’ hailstorm, some particles falling from the sky will be large and irregularly shaped so it is worthwhile to inspect your roof.

Check for leaks inside

Repair Cost and Coverage

On average, one billion dollars per year is spent repairing damage from hailstorms. Inspect your roof immediately after a storm to prevent further damage due to water infiltration. Damage from hailstorms sometimes only requires minor repair, but sometimes damage may be so severe as to require a roof replacement. Most roofing warranties do not cover storm damage, but you should be covered by your home insurance. After a storm, insurers will be swamped with claims, so you should place yours ASAP to avoid getting lost in a blizzard of paperwork.

Insurers should cover the cost to repair anything that compromises your roof’s ability to shed water and/or reduces its expected life. The decision regarding whether or not to replace your entire roof versus individual roof slopes will depend on several factors, including the age of your roof. Sometimes your local roofer may recommend something different than your insurer. If you have trouble resolving a dispute, you can take it up with the Connecticut Department of Insurance. The regulators’ job is to hold insurers to the terms of your contract.

Inspecting roofs can be dangerous, especially in the winter. We do not recommend climbing on your roof under any circumstances. If you notice potential damage from the ground, please call us for a more thorough inspection. Even if you don’t notice anything, it is still prudent to call your roofing contractor for an inspection. Damage and leaks may not be readily apparent. We can also give you an estimate and work with your insurer. Filing a claim can be stressful. If you are a new homeowner, or have been lucky enough to avoid disaster so far, we have some basic information to help you understand the insurance claim process, roofing estimates, and what you should expect to pay.

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